Six men and six women, along with three alternates, were selected Friday to decide whether the Mr. Deeds star committed a major misdeed, shoplifting some $6,000 worth of designer goodies from the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue--a felonious offense that could land Ryder in jail. Ryder has proclaimed her innocence in the matter.
This being the 90210, Winona Ryder really will be tried by her peers, with a former Hollywood studio boss and a freelance TV producer winding up on the panel.
Lawyers for both sides winnowed down the jury pool from 33 to 15, as Winona herself, sharply attired in a grayish blue jacket, sat at the defense table dutifully scribbling notes during the juror Q&A.
While the identities of jurors were supposed to be kept secret, one couldn't help being noticed: former Sony studio boss Peter Guber.
Guber, who now runs Mandalay Entertainment, raised his hand when Judge Elden Fox asked if anyone was familiar with Ryder.
"I was the chairman of Sony Pictures when one of our companies made a film with Ms. Ryder," Guber said. (Ryder actually starred in three films distributed by Sony-owned Columbia Pictures during Guber's tenure at the company: 1993's The Age of Innocence and 1994's Little Women, both of which earned her Oscar nominations, and 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula.)
Asked if his prior business relationship with Ryder would influence his judgment, Guber responded, "No, I believe I would be fair and impartial."
The lawyers bought it, and Guber made the cut.
Earlier, Fox made the jurors take a two-page questionnaire asking thing like "Given what you know, if anything, about Winona Ryder, do you have any feelings of sympathy towards her?" and "Given what you know, if anything, about Winona Ryder, do you have any feelings of antipathy towards her?"
He also told them to essentially find a rock and climb under it for the next few days. "Jurors will be prohibited from reading newspaper articles, watching TV shows or listening to radio commentary on the case," said Fox. The judge also banned jurors from shopping at Saks. "It's only for five to seven days," he reasoned.
While Guber was impaneled, other Industry types in the jury pool got their walking papers, among them: a casting director who said she was considering Ryder for a role in an unspecified movie; a man whose wife works at Disney and an employee at MGM.
"I think we have all the movie studios represented now," cracked Fox.
Winona, lawyers, judge and jurors are due back at the Beverly Hills Courthouse early Monday morning--the day before the actress' 31st birthday. Opening arguments are slated to get underway at 10 a.m., with the case expected to last five to seven days.